Tag Archives: SAVE NOTRE DAME CHURCH

My thoughts on the Singapore Summit … and … news from Save Notre Dame Church!

But first … FYI. – R.T.

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MY THOUGHTS ON THE SINGAPORE SUMMIT

By Ron O’Clair

The Singapore Summit between our current President Donald J. Trump and North Korean Premier Kim Jong Un that just took place will no doubt be a historical moment. There are many here in Worcester who do not support our current administration, quite vociferously in opposition, in fact.

I have been writing articles for InCity Times/CECELIA featuring Worcester’s Democratic Party, democratic politicians and have come to know most of the people involved in Worcester politics through my own run for Worcester City Council. I have many friends who are Democrats, Republicans and Independents. I think I have done pretty well separating my own politics from my published work. …

… The progress made by our President and the North Korean Premier is a good start on the road to a successful conclusion that should benefit everyone. No one in their right mind would actually want a nuclear war to happen anywhere in the world. It would destroy our planet and billions of people would suffer horrendously.

Regardless of how you feel about Donald J. Trump, you must be – as I am – elated that peace talks are underway at last, our U.S. MIA and KIA soldiers’ remains will be brought home for burial, and we can embark on a new, hopefully peaceful, relationship with the North Korean government.

There are those reading this who will not give an inch of credit to Trump, and I understand how that can be. But what about giving credit to the other people who had a part in bringing this day about? People like the brutalized and tortured – by the North Korean government – Otto Warmbier who gave his life in sacrifice, unknowingly, which led to international media coverage of his death … Or the bizarre, longtime friendship of NBA’s Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un, which helped open the door to the current administration. It was rebuffed by the previous administration.

The fact that Dennis Rodman, like Kanye West, suffered death threats from his own supposed “friends” -for his political activities and beliefs – should open the eyes of all Americans. There are many people who are clearly blinded by hatred to the point of absurdity – especially when it comes to anything to do with the present administration.

What benefits one, benefits all. I believe the summit was a good start on the road to a better future for everyone on the planet! Those who find fault with it, should perhaps reexamine their priorities. Stop the hatred of all things based on personal feelings of ill will towards President Trump. Forgive the past, as the leaders have done, and concentrate on moving forward with the best interests of the people in mind, all of the people, equally under our laws as intended by our United States Constitution.

Let us at least attempt to focus our energies on what is good about America of today: our booming economy, our improved employment opportunities for all people, lowered taxes spurring increased business development, fewer people on relief & food stamps(?).

How can anyone at this point still deny the positives that have come in the last nearly two years?

We must focus on the positive and stop dwelling on the negative. Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a very good thing for everyone!

May the God of our understanding continue to bless our nation in positive ways.

Comments? Please email Ron at Ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

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From the SAVE NOTRE DAME CHURCH ALLIANCE:

Community leaders seek injunction to enforce state review of Notre Dame des Canadiens demolition

Thirteen Massachusetts residents, including community leaders and members of the Save Notre Dame Alliance, filed a civil action on Tuesday in Worcester Superior Court seeking an injunction to prevent the demolition of Notre Dame des Canadiens until such time as the legally required impact review process is completed.

The destruction of Notre Dame without state review to seek alternatives to demolition would violate the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (“MEPA”). This is because Notre Dame is listed on the Inventory of Historic and Archeological Assets of the Commonwealth, and before any listed building can be demolished as part of a development using state funds MEPA requires an exhaustive public review by state agencies to look for alternatives.

The suit against CitySquare II Development Company (a subsidiary of Hanover Insurance) claims the firm never filed the required notice with EOEEA or MHC to initiate the review as the law requires.

The court set a hearing for Thursday, June 14, at 2 PM in room 20 on the 4th floor of the Worcester County Courthouse (225 Main St.) to hear the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction to bar demolition while the suit is pending.

If the court grants a permanent injunction, CitySquare II would not be allowed to demolish the church while the review MEPA requires is under way.

Plaintiff Ted Conna said “we hope that the review process will identify alternatives to demolition, and that this landmark historic building can be saved and restored. If that happens, Notre Dame will add both economic and cultural value to everything around it. But even if the review process does not produce any new solution to save Notre Dame, we felt it was important on principle to defend the law—in this case, the law that says that when state agencies and state funding are involved, the state’s historic assets cannot be demolished without proper review. I’ve been asking myself for months, how can it be legal that a building of such historic importance could be demolished without MHC review? Well, it turns out that it’s not legal.”

“Some may call us obstructionist for bringing this action,” Conna continued, “but I’d rather be called that than be a ‘destructionist.’ I think an obstructionist tries to prevent someone else from creating something, but that’s not what’s going on here at all. We are trying to prevent the defendants from destroying something of great value to our community, with no plans to replace it with anything other than a vacant lot. The lot across Trumbull Street from Notre Dame was vacant for nearly 50 years after all the buildings there were demolished to make way for an office tower that was never built. How is that progress? I think ‘protectionist’ and ‘preservationist’ are far more accurate words for what we are trying to do, which is to protect and preserve an important historic building for the Worcester community.”

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From the Save Notre Dame Alliance …

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Always so good to drive by and see her elegant spires piercing the clouds! pic: R.T.

Dear Save Notre Dame Supporters:

🌸 STAY INFORMED:
savenotredamealliance.com

facebook.com/pg/savenotredamealliance/

🌺 CALL, EMAIL WORCESTER CITY COUNCILORS TODAY, SUNDAY, MONDAY AND TUESDAY AND ASK THEM TO VOTE FOR THE CITY TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF NOTRE DAME AT THE TUESDAY COUNCIL MEETING. (Emails and phone number are below.)

💜COME TO THE PRESS CONFERENCE MONDAY, 10 AM, IN FRONT OF NOTRE DAME church!

🐦 COME TO THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING THIS COMING TUESDAY, 6:30 PM!

💒 DRIVE BY, WALK BY NOTRE DAME AND ENJOY PERHAPS ITS FINAL DAYS OF MAJESTY!

With gratitude and hope,

Ted Conna and Barbara Haller for the Save Notre Dame Alliance

☎💻Contact info:

☎☎City Council office: 508-799-1049

💻Email addresses:

BergmanM@worcesterma.gov; KingK@worcesterma.gov; LukesK@worcesterma.gov; RosenG@worcesterma.gov; ToomeyK@worcesterma.gov; RoseS@worcesterma.gov; Mero-CarlsonC@worcesterma.gov; RussellG@worcesterma.gov; RiveraSA@worcesterma.gov; WallyM@worcesterma.gov; council@worcesterma.gov;

Kathleen.Polanowicz@mail.house.gov; Harriette.Chandler@masenate.gov; Michael.Moore@masenate.gov; Mary.Keefe@mahouse.gov; James.O’Day@mahouse.gov; John.Mahoney@mahouse.gov; Daniel.Donahue@mahouse.gov; Campanale@mahouse.gov

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✍✍✍Letter sent to Worcester City Councilors today:

The only options the Save Notre Dame Alliance has identified have been rejected by Mayor Petty. You can vote to change this course of inaction. Generations will thank you.

Because the building will be destroyed this week, despite your having asked Hanover to delay it for 3 months, it seems that the only remaining option is for you to:

Vote to ask the City Manager to contact Hanover immediately and without delay to ask Hanover to halt demolition and to tell Hanover that the City wants to take possession.

Hanover has stated it will stop demolition if a viable developer is found. The City is certainly a viable developer.

Once the City has control, it can then determine the best course of action for preserving it and finding the right re-use.

Two recent examples of the City acquiring property and then holding it while it finds the appropriate developer:

1. Former Worcester Courthouse:

2008 vacant

2014 City bought it from State for $1

2017 City sold it to Trinity Development for $1.3M

2. WRA Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan:

2016 City Council votes to approve plan which includes 118 parcels and 380 properties in a 118.4-acre area that extends from the downtown southwesterly to Quinsigamond Avenue

2017 WRA begins process to acquire 517 Main St. and 521 Main St.

2017 WRA hires a consultant to prepare possible expansion of Plan.

Thank you

Thank you, Mayor Joseph Petty! You love Notre Dame, too, and have joined the fight to save her!!

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Notre Dame Church. CECELIA file photos: R.O.

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From the SAVE NOTRE DAME ALLIANCE:

Dear Save Notre Dame Supporters: STAY INFORMED:

savenotredamealliance.com

facebook.com/pg/savenotredamealliance/

This past Tuesday (May 15) was an important and, dare we say, hopeful night:

Our Mayor, Joe Petty, told the Alliance that he would do everything in his power to Save Notre Dame!

Barbara Haller, former City Councilor and active member of Save Notre Dame Alliance, has known Mayor Joe Petty for over 20 years and she attests to Joe’s honesty and integrity – if Mayor Petty says he has joined the fight to save Notre Dame then we can be certain that he will work tirelessly, knock on every possible door, and work to find a solution. This is great news and a hopeful development.

Mayor Petty also said, “I will make a determined effort over the next couple of weeks, but no promises – this is a tough one.”

Let us be clear: Destructive demolition (“bulk demo”) is expected within the next two weeks. The building is in tough shape. Hanover, Notre Dames’ owner, believes the building is not worth saving for a whole host of reasons.

So the challenge is to:

· figure out a plan to find a new owner,

· get enough money to save the building, AND

· get Hanover to stop the demolition and to stay seated at the negotiating table as the plan is finalized.

All this has to be done in two weeks!

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pic: R.T.

How you can help:

Email the Mayor NOW!

Our job now is to support Mayor Joe Petty’s work on overcoming these challenges. The more support he has the stronger his voice will be. If everyone who reads this sends an email it would absolutely make a huge impact.

Here’s a draft:

Dear Mayor Petty:

THANK YOU for you leadership in promising your time and energy to saving Notre Dame. With your commitment we now have a chance to keep this iconic building in our downtown. HOORAY!

With gratitude and hope,

Your name

Email: PettyJM@worcesterma.gov

mayor@worcesterma.gov

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pic: R.T.

Cc: BergmanM@worcesterma.gov; KingK@worcesterma.gov; LukesK@worcesterma.gov; RosenG@worcesterma.gov; ToomeyK@worcesterma.gov; RoseS@worcesterma.gov; Mero-CarlsonC@worcesterma.gov; RussellG@worcesterma.gov; RiveraSA@worcesterma.gov; WallyM@worcesterma.gov; council@worcesterma.gov; Kathleen.Polanowicz@mail.house.gov; Harriette.Chandler@masenate.gov; Michael.Moore@masenate.gov; Mary.Keefe@mahouse.gov; James.O’Day@mahouse.gov; John.Mahoney@mahouse.gov; Daniel.Donahue@mahouse.gov; Campanale@mahouse.gov

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Thank you!

Photos by Ron O’Clair: City Council tables voting for $ to save Notre Dame …

… until next week’s council meeting. Nevertheless, people got up to speak on the issue – most to support saving the iconic downtown building:

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“Preservation Trumps Profit” placard in back row:
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Barbara Haller, co-chair of the alliance to save the church from the wrecking claw, and other supporters pay close attention to the proceedings:

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Gathering outside of Council Chambers of supporters, including City Councilors King and Rivera:

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D 4 Councilor Sarai Rivera and former D 4 Councilor Barbara Haller discussing the plans to save Notre Dame:

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Councilor King rocking hie Notorious Big shirt:

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Don’t fuck this up, Worcester!
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Tonight! At City Hall! Final push to SAVE NOTRE DAME! Be there! 6:15 p.m.

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CECELIA file photo: R.T.

From the Save Notre Dame! alliance:

STAY INFORMED! Please visit:

https://www.savenotredamealliance.com

https://www.facebook.com/pg/savenotredamealliance/

Dear Supporters of Save Notre Dame:

We are in the final push to SAVE NOTRE DAME des CANADIENS as Demo June comes ever so close.

We continue to look for a robust developer and/or philanthropic angels.

In the meantime, we continue to press our elected Mayor and City Councilors to clearly tell the City Manager to save this building.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Here’s how:

Join us TONIGHT (Tuesday, May 15) at the Worcester City Council meeting at 6:15pm.

We will greet the Mayor and Councilors as they arrive. We will:

· thank them for their continued support for Notre Dame,

· ask them to support the petitions Ted Conna has submitted, and

· ask them to speak up strongly and firmly to the City Manager stating that they expect him to find a way to save the building.

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file photo: R.O.

Once the meeting gets going, as many people as wanted can speak for 2 minutes on the need to save Notre Dame.

If you are willing to speak, please do so!

Your message can be short and sweet: “Great cities save their great buildings. Please tell the City Manager to save Notre Dame.”

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Meeting will take place at:

Worcester City Hall, 3rd floor.

Out best guess is that people will need to stay at the meeting till 7:30 p.m.

Note: plan on extra time for finding a parking place. Parking BENEATH CITY HALL!

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Email or call our elected officials with your message:

Great cities save their great buildings. Worcester is a great city. Notre Dame is a great
building. Please tell City Manager Ed Augustus that he must find a way to save Notre Dame from the wrecking claw and that you will help him in any way you can.

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photo: R.O.

Contact info:

PettyJM@worcesterma.gov; mayor@worcesterma.gov; BergmanM@worcesterma.gov; KingK@worcesterma.gov; LukesK@worcesterma.gov; RosenG@worcesterma.gov; ToomeyK@worcesterma.gov; RoseS@worcesterma.gov; Mero-CarlsonC@worcesterma.gov; RussellG@worcesterma.gov; RiveraSA@worcesterma.gov; WallyM@worcesterma.gov; council@worcesterma.gov; Kathleen.Polanowicz@mail.house.gov; Harriette.Chandler@masenate.gov; Michael.Moore@masenate.gov; Mary.Keefe@mahouse.gov; James.O’Day@mahouse.gov; John.Mahoney@mahouse.gov; Daniel.Donahue@mahouse.gov

☎☎☎☎☎:

Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty: 508 799-1153

Worcester City Council: 508 799-1049

US Congressman Jim McGovern 508-831-7356

MA Senator Harriette Chandler 617-722-1544

MA Senator Mike Moore 617-722-1485

MA Representative Mary Keefe 617-722-2210

MA Representative Jim O’Day 617-722-2090

MA Representative John Mahoney 617-722-2460

MA Representative Dan Donahue 617-722-2304

It ain’t over till it’s over and it ain’t over yet, but the clock is certainly ticking loudly. Please do whatever you can.

Thank you!

Ted Conna and Barbara Haller

A church is its people 💜 … If you ain’t got no people, …

By Rosalie Tirella

… you ain’t got no church.

Just an empty, albeit beautiful, edifice.

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Yesterday… pics: R.T.

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Notre Dame church. Erected for and by grubby immigrants in another Worcester century, but the most graceful building on the city block!

Slated to meet the wrecking ball – and lose! – in order to make way for more of our new, Walmart-like downtown! New, plywood, “luxury” apartments – or a big-box, cinder-block parking garage to house the cars of the people who will live in the new, plywood, “luxury” apartments. An act of sheer folly! But to the developers, Notre Dame church IS a folly!

You can’t blame them: They’re money guys. Money is their God. And they’re not from our city – have no history with Notre Dame church. Even if it was only driving by it or walking by it to go to work in some downtown office or to return a book to the public library across the street. Yet always FEELING the church’s elegance, always BEING BATHED in the church’s beauty. It’s – like everything – a subconscious trip!

Cuz Notre Dame is one of the few inspirational – full of Grace! Spirits soar before its cloud-caressing portal! – buildings in our evolving (devolving??) downtown. Also, it’s aspirational! The French Canadian immigrants who called it theirs, who worshipped God there – but especially the Virgin Mother – “Our Lady,” “Notre Dame” in French – had high hopes for themselves and their children. In WORCESTER. In AMERICA! They must have thought to themselves: Look at our gorgeous church! BUILT BY US! The best thing on the block! We can do anything!!

Now … here’s their church …

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… drowning in the ugliness!

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All the big boxes. With the smaller boxes (the luxury apartments) inside of them.

The church stands alone.

The cheese stands alone.

Could the developer, its owner, have saved it? Yes, of course. But why? Why spend all that extra dough? Why make the big effort for a building they don’t love like the locals do? To them, Notre Dame is just a white elephant they’ve (unfortunately) been saddled with. Notre Dame means SOMETHING to you and me! It means NOTHING to them!!

You’d think the City of Worcester would have/could have worked with the developer to find a solution. Nope. They’re too busy giving blow jobs to every developer who walks through the door! PLEASE! INVEST IN WORCESTER! WE’LL DO ANYTHING FOR YOU! TIFs ARE JUST THE BEGINNING! Or some rich old Worcester yankee, up to her/his nostrils in million-dollar trust funds from our long-gone factories/industrial heyday.

No such luck. It’s all futile hand-wringing!

So, we lose something we love, never to be regained, recreated, resurrected. Like your mother, your old beau, a great friend. You have the memories, but they fade. You tell the stories so you – everybody – remembers. But it’s not the flesh and blood, the kisses, the stones and marble, the person, the First Holy Communion processions, the gold leaf cross, the candles, the perfume, the burning incense. The Church. You know, the Love Parade.

Edith in A.I…Worcester, should we preserve, restore or replace?

By Edith Morgan

We Worcesterites are in the midst of making decisions about many of the distinctive structures that dot our city, and that give testimony to some part of our history. In the cse of some, the decision has already been made, and they have either been razed and replaced (for example, The Odd Fellows Home on Randolph Road), or “repurposed” (like the Higgins Armory building, whose collection  is now part of the Worcester Art Museum’s collections).

Still in limbo are Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, and under threat of being razed is Notre Dame des Canadiens. And countless old school buildings are now condominiums, scattered in various parts of the city.

Resurrected beautifully, a number of buildings now serve their original purposes: Union Station, so long left to disintegrate, now stands proudly beside the I 290 highway, host once again to trains and now also busses going to many places far and near. The Hanover Theatre too is a joy to attend, as is the jewel of Worcester restorations, Mechanics Hall, also saved from disintegration.  And this past week, Memorial Grove in Green Hill Park, while not a building, was replanted in time for Memorial Day 2016.
 
While Worcester is not yet really a great tourist destination, we are taking steps to put ourselves on the map. What other destination cities have that we still do not have is a pedestrian-friendly environment. We are still plagued by narrow streets, too much traffic, narrow and uneven sidewalks, and lack of consistent street signs that enable newcomers to our city to get around.

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ICT editor Rosalie took these photos today. Lower Endicott Street. Illegal garbage-dumping makes Worcester univiting – and scary. It’s a big problem in District 4.

My husband and I just returned from a long trip around the U.S., and we have both in the past travelled widely around various parts of the world. So we have had a chance to look at what makes other places attractive to people. Each place hs its own attractions: sometimes it is geography (unusual scenery, water, hills and mountains, perfect climate, etc.); sometimes it is newness and cleanliness, and a sensible layout of streets and walks; other times it is trails through nature, or through historical sites – even cemeteries and monuments commemorating important events. Whatever the attraction, there is sufficient public support to publicize these “wonders” and to welcome visitors.
 
One feature that ALL these cited have is that they are very well maintained: they are not trashed by either inhabitants or visitors, and there is always a staff continuously cleaning, pruning, replanting and repainting so that all always looks attractive, safe and really cared for. There is a commitment to  daily maintenance because there is an understanding that no matter how beautiful your structures are, and how great your parks and buildings are, no one will feel  safe  if sites seem neglected and abandoned.

So, Worcester, let’s decide what we want to show off and really commit to paying to keep it all looking and feeling inviting to all!

Save Notre Dame church! Honor the history of our French Canadian immigrants!

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The beautiful church, cut off from the community … (pic: R.T.)

By Chris Horton

What, I’ve often wondered, should we do with that beautiful church building just off the Worcester Common, Notre Dame des Canadiens?

It will be expensive to restore and expensive to maintain. But it was expensive to build and it always was expensive to maintain!

It was meant to be a church building, and no expense was spared in creating a gathering place that would inspire the worshipers, fill them with awe and lift their spirits. So now that no one wants it for a church, what do we do with it?

Some have proposed that the church be recycled as housing, perhaps by building an apartment building inside its shell. Or a market space. Or recycle it for business, or a part of the hotel that was built on the assumption the church would be cleared out of the way. But none of these can justify such an expensive building. Recycling it into residential or commercial use is an economic non-starter.

So where do we spend money on awe-inspiring and ennobling public buildings? Banks and courthouses are often grand and beautiful, but they’re designed to make us feel small before the power of the state and corporations, not to uplift us. Worcester has enough theatre buildings and a perfectly good City Hall. We have museums.

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Notre Dame’s architecture is soul-ELEVATING!

But do we have a museum of the French Canadian Immigration?

Does anyone?

Millions of New Englanders trace their families back to Quebec and New Brunswick, to more than a million French Canadians who migrated south to work in our mills and on our railroads. They built and paid for this church out of their meager wages, and it was a center of their community life. Where is the museum to celebrate their culture, their history, their struggles and triumphs building a new life in the States?

It has always struck me as bizarre that French Canadian immigrants don’t seem to celebrate their story and culture. That’s not healthy. Loving one’s people, one’s ancestors, and celebrating them is part of loving oneself, without which one can never be whole.

Thus a great and inspiring museum can fill a huge unmet need! As far as I can tell, there is no museum or monument to the French Canadian immigrants, here or anywhere in New England. A quick Google search turned up one unimpressive storefront museum in Ohio and another in Kankakee – and a French Institute on the third floor of the Assumption College Library.

Is there an interest in building a museum of the French Canadian migration? A good organizer could probably find out with a week or two on the phone, calling French Canadian churches, clubs, societies and institutes around New England. The French Institute at Assumption College on Salisbury Street might be a good starting place!

If the result of this exploration is that organizing a museum looks possible, you’d need to work quickly to convince the Worcester Historical Commission not to fast-track de-listing it. Your presentation would not be just for them – but for the people of Worcester.

Then, you’d have one year to build a team and get the museum project organized and funded. You could reach out to and challenge every French Canadian church, club and society in New England to come together around saving this grand public building and building an appropriately great museum and monument.

As you read this, did you find yourself imagining this French Canadian Museum and wishing it could happen? Dreaming of saving something that was precious to you when you were young? Did you find yourself thinking “I could do this!”? Or even “I wish I could do this!”?
Could you imagine getting away with taking a week’s vacation or leave of absence to start calling and talking about this project? Or even spending a day finding someone else who can?

This museum will never happen, and the memory of the French Canadians will continue to fade away, unless someone steps forward, declares it will and commits to making it happen. But I believe that if someone does step up to the plate – maybe you? – it can and will happen.

So why not you?

I can’t think of a better spot to put the museum in than the Notre Dame de Les Canadiens Church building. We’ve lost so much of our history! What a gift to us all saving this piece would be!